When it comes to the Fantastic Four, I’m a late bloomer. While I’ve maintained a passing familiarity with the team and its adventures over the years, I was never really a regular reader until Jonathan Hickman happened along and made me realize exactly how wonderful Marvel’s First Family was for telling personally grounded stories that were simultaneously epic in scope.
Now that he has departed the book for the Avengers corner of the Marvel Universe, he has been relieved by Matt Fraction. I have been utterly in awe of Fraction’s work on Hawkeye, so I decided to give this title a shot.
Now, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely blown away by the first issue. There is a lot of set-up for what will be the thrust of the series, which is the core family going off for “less action, more adventure.” There is also an underlying problem that Reed Richards will have to solve (because, let’s face it, that’s what Reed does) and the added fun of setting up the characters that feature in the companion FF series.
The second issue does a fine job of placing the pieces on the board, and there is a lot more laying in of ingredients that are sure to simmer in this superhero stew. Fraction really has a handle on the character voices, and the concept of returning the Fantastic Four to their roots as explorers is one that appeals to both newer fans like me, who are looking for books that go beyond generic superhero tropes, and to old fans who are excited to see throwback stories like this.
The one major issue that I have with the story is that it would seem Reed has not learned anything in the years that Hickman was on the book. When faced with a life-threatening problem, he has not learned to lean on his brilliant and talented family, but again keeps things to himself and lies to those closest to him. One of the central tenets of the Hickman run was Reed learning that family is the most important thing in his life, despite his personal gifts, and learning to trust them. All of that seems to have been thrown out the window and we’re back to Reed playing everything close to the vest.
All in all, Fraction has shown he has something good cooking. Whether or not it winds up being worth the price of admission will have to wait until we’ve seen more, but the book is an excellent pick-up for new and old fans alike.